Lin cools off but still comes through

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 12, 2012 - 12:27 AM

The Knicks sensation had a brutal second half against the Wolves, but with the game on the line he got to the line for the go-ahead point.

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Jeremy Lin worked on Ricky Rubio during Saturday night's game.

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Some fans among the Timberwolves' largest home crowd in eight years chanted "overrated" not long before New York point guard Jeremy Lin stepped forth Saturday night and made the go-ahead free throw.

Just days ago, who possibly could have imagined either thing?

"Uh, no," Lin said of the chants after Saturday's 100-98 comeback victory over the Wolves. "But thank you to them for that."

A little more than a week ago, Lin was an anonymous player waived twice in December by NBA teams and then claimed by the Knicks only because injured Baron Davis wasn't yet ready to start the season and Iman Shumpert was hurting.

"It was nice that he was even rated," New York coach Mike D'Antoni said when asked about Saturday's chants.

All that has changed in eight days and five games for Lin, an Asian-American of Taiwanese descent who was Harvard-educated, D League-cultivated and now is Madison Square Garden-worshipped and trending worldwide in a big way on Twitter.

"It's a good story," D'Antoni said in one of the understatements of the night.

Saturday, Lin led a Knicks team missing its two superstars -- injured Carmelo Anthony and grieving Amare Stoudemire -- to a fifth victory in a row after it had previously lost 11 of 13 games, a stretch that probably had D'Antoni on the verge of getting fired.

Lin's night against the Wolves -- 20 points, eight assists, three steals, six turnovers -- didn't approach the efficiency of his previous four games that wowed the basketball world and beyond. Those games also placed his name alongside LeBron James and Isiah Thomas for most productive first starts in a career.

"I feel like I'm still living a dream," he said after Saturday's game.

It's a long way from sleeping on his brother's couch in a New York City apartment, which is where he spent his nights while waiting to see if he could earn a permanent job with the Knicks.

He might have done that by now. In the past five games, Lin has averaged 26.8 points and eight assists. His 109 points in his first four starts are the most for any player in the league since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

Saturday, he scored 15 points in the first half but shot 1-for-12 in the second half while committing four turnovers. However, he broke a 98-98 tie when he made one of two free throws with 4.9 seconds left.

"I definitely can't say that I would have expected to come in and do this in one week," said Lin, 23.

Harvard has produced eight American presidents and three NBA players, although the last one before Lin played in the league 58 years ago.

Lin disappeared into a Target Center training room for more than 40 minutes after Saturday's game. When he finally appeared, he limped to his locker with an ice bag on his leg after playing seven games in 10 days.

"If anyone's feeling fresh, I'd like to know what they're eating," he said. "We've got a day off tomorrow. I can't wait."

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